Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle – Week of June 27 , 2022

By Leann Sato, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

Tips for Effective Watering
What’s the best way to water lawns? Here’s three tips for effective watering this summer. First, water only when needed – if grass springs back when stepped on, wait to water. Second, water early in the morning with a pulsating sprinkler to avoid evaporation and loss to wind. Third, water deeply, about one to one and a half inches of water. Set a small container near the sprinkler to help measure. Keep it green by watering efficiently and effectively. 

 Water Consumption
How low can you go? Panhandle water consumption triples in the summer mostly for landscape watering. Save water and keep water use consistently lower by landscaping with high plains native and regional plants which are hardier and require less water in our climate, reducing and replacing cool turf grass with warm season varieties like buffalo grass or blue grama, and creating healthy soil that holds moisture by incorporating compost. Use less water more wisely with better landscape management. 

The 5 R’s of a Green Lifestyle
Are you green? The green lifestyle pursues knowledge and practices that are both environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible. The 5 R’s of zero waste living embody the Green lifestyle. Refuse what you don’t need, re-use what you can, reduce belongings to what you actually need and use, recycle what you can, and rot, or compost, the rest. Going green, saves green – money, resources, and the environment. Which can make others green with envy.

What to do With Grass Clippings
Recycle, Reuse, or Rot grass clippings. Recycle grass clippings that are one inch or less by leaving them on the lawn to act as natural fertilizer. Reuse dry clippings as mulch one to two inches thick around trees, shrubs or in garden beds to reduce weeds and conserve moisture. Or rot clippings, by mixing with a bit of soil and other dry plant material to create a rich compost. Recycle, reuse, and rot grass clippings. 

Stormwater Runoff
It rarely rains, so why be concerned with stormwater runoff? Runoff in dry climates possesses high concentrations of pollutants and sediment. Swales and rain gardens can slow and contain dirty runoff allowing sediment to drop out. Healthy soils growing deep rooted native plants provide filtration, prevent erosion, and encourage groundwater recharge. But the best way to protect stormwater is pollution prevention – proper waste disposal, careful use of fertilizers and chemicals, and wise water use keep pollutants out and water clean.